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How to Cut Striped Fabric


Striped fabric features vertical or horizontal lines. These lines can be printed on top of the fabric and merely sit upon the surface. You can tell a printed stripe fabric because the print will appear on the right side and be either faint or not visible at all on the wrong side. Stripes that are woven or knit into the fabric are visible on both sides. These are called “yarn-dyed” stripes. The yarn is dyed first and then the different colors of yarn are woven or knit into the striped pattern. Yarn-dyed stripes are generally a better quality than printed stripes. Pinstripes are very thin stripes that get their name because they are as narrow as a pin.

Striped fabric

Striped fabric

Fabric that are treated like stripes

Fabric that are treated like stripes

Stripes meeting at center seam

Stripes meeting at center seam


You’ll see striped knit fabric for casual garments like T-shirts and activewear. Woven striped fabric can be used for day dresses, shirtdresses, skirts and sundresses, blouses and suiting. Menswear features a lot of striped garments: pinstripe suits, striped dress shirts, striped neckties and even striped pajamas and bathrobes. The stripes can be placed horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Striped fabric cut on the bias (page link) will create a diagonal effect. Many garment designs will combine several directions of striping for visual impact. Sewing patterns will often include a note that says the pattern requires extra fabric for plaids (page link) and stripes, or it might say that the design is not suitable for stripes.


Just like border prints (page link), plan out the stripe direction and placement before you start cutting.

When you place the pattern pieces, think about how the stripes will line up from piece to piece. This is called stripe matching. You’ll also consider the stripe direction or the way the stripes will go on each piece. This is determined by the grain line (page link) unless you change it.

Do you have to match stripes? Not if the stripe is fairly subtle and you’re not concerned about having big bands of color ending up in strange places. Depending on the design of your pattern or the purpose of the garment, you may not be concerned about having the stripes match.

How to Cut Striped Fabric (1)

Fold your fabric according to the cutting layout. Before placing any of the pattern pieces, line up the stripes, from the top layer to the bottom layer. Place a pin through one stripe, and turn the fabric over to see if the pin passes through the same stripe on both layers. Yes? Good! If not, slide one layer of fabric and re-pin until they are properly lined up.

How to Cut Striped Fabric (2)

Pin every 6″ (15.2cm) to keep the stripes lined up. When you get far away from the edge, check that the layers are aligned by lifting up the fabric edge to see if the pin went through the bottom layer in the right place. If not, slide the lower layer of fabric until it’s lined up.

How to Cut Striped Fabric (3)

To match the seams, place the first pattern piece and line up one of the notches along the seam to match with one of the stripe lines.
When you place the second pattern piece, make sure the same stripe is in line with the same notch. If there are no notches, you can use the top or bottom edges of the piece as your matching point. When you sew the seam and match the notches, you’ll be matching up the stripes at the same time.

For Pieces on A Fold


Cut through the top layer only and remove the pattern tissue. Realign the cut edge with the stripe lines to ensure the piece is cut perfectly symmetrical.

For Straight Pieces


It’s best to cut waistbands, cuffs and plackets with the fabric in a single layer. Line up the cutting line along a stripe. Once you start cutting, take the tissue off and focus only on cutting straight along the stripe line. You can replace the tissue to cut the other side, but at least you know you’re staying on the stripe as you cut.


As an alternative to pinning the stripes, you can cut all of your pattern pieces on a single layer of fabric. This saves time on pinning and allows you to choose the placement of each piece. This is an especially good solution for cutting important pieces of the garment, for example, cutting shirt or bodice front panels when you want the stripe placement to be exact. If your stripe is really bold, large or distinct, cutting on a single layer lets you choose where each section lands. It also lets you choose the most flattering placement. Don’t like orange next to your face? Don’t cut the collar out of the orange section. And if you are short on fabric, cutting from a single layer wastes less fabric. Just remember to flip the pattern piece over when you cut the second piece!


Here are some tips when it comes to sewing striped fabric. The cutting is the most labor-intensive part, and if you’ve cut with care, your seams will be easy to match and sew.

  • Pin every stripe intersection on seams you want to match. Or pin every second stripe line. Pin as many times as you need to pin to feel confident about the pinning part. No one will know how many pins you used to sew each seam once your garment is finished.
  • Baste your seam first. After basting (page link), check to make sure the stripes match along the seam line. If you need to fix a slipped stripe, it’ll be easier to unpick the basting than it would to undo permanent stitching.
  • Be prepared to unpick and redo your basted seam a few times to get it right. If you nail it the first try? Awesome! Run your machine right over the basting stitches using regular-size stitches this time. If you expect to have some fixing to do, it doesn’t seem so bad when it inevitably happens.


When you’re sewing a striped fabric, especially one with a strong contrast between the colors, what color thread do you use? Here are some factors to consider.

  • What color is dominant? Are there heavy black stripes and thin white stripes? In that case, I’d pick black thread.
  • What color are you serging, if you’re planning to use a serger as well?
  • What does the fabric look like from the inside? Some fabrics are bright and printed on the outside but all white on the inside. In that case, you might want to use white thread.
  • Is there any topstitching (page link)? If so, what color do you want the topstitching to be? If there is no topstitching, the color of your thread is less important as it’s only going to be visible from the inside and maybe a little at the seams if they pull apart.
  • Do you want to switch between thread colors? Perhaps there’s a wide black stripe at the hem but you were planning to use white thread. It might look better if you switched to black thread just at that one spot.
  • Can you find a good color match in thread? With some colors, it may be hard to find a matching thread color. Cream, white and black are all easy thread colors to find.

Tips + Notes

  • Buy extra fabric to make sure you can line up the stripes where you want them. The extra fabric will be handy in case you need to recut smaller pieces.
  • Know when enough is enough. If you’ve redone your seam three times, and it’s still only 99 percent perfect, stop! Pat yourself on the back for getting it pretty darn close and move forward.
  • Not sure if your stripes are “good enough”? Put the project away, come back an hour later and see how you feel about the stripes. Do they match? Do you care? Make a decision and move on. Life is too short to agonize over possibly-not-matching stripes on a T-shirt.
  • Need validation on your stripes? Take a photo. It’s the best way to look at your project from a distance and decide whether it’s good enough to move on or needs to be fixed.
  • Striped fabric is a little tricky to cut but not as hard as cutting plaid fabric. If you’re dreaming of sewing plaid fabrics (page link) but worry about the cutting stage, stripes are a good way to practice your cutting and matching skills before tackling plaids.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine